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Harnessing the data revolution for ACP agriculture

February 12, 2015

The next Brussels Briefing, on February 18 2015, will focus on the potential that the data revolution has for the ACP agrifood sector.

In today’s digital age, massive amounts of valuable data are constantly being generated by a wide range of sources – call logs, mobile-banking transactions, online user-generated content such as blog posts and Tweets, online searches and satellite images. Some of these data have scope for driving development, offering new opportunities to tackle global challenges such as inadequate agricultural production and climate change. However, to achieve these benefits, there needs to be a more equal access and use of data and its applications, as well as a deeper understanding of a number of issues, including trust and open access.

The next Brussels Briefing, on February 18, will focus on the potential that the data revolution has for the ACP agrifood sector. Specifically, the event will document key initiatives in data-driven development and agriculture. It will present some achievements of ACP countries in using new tools for data and statistical management. And it will promote multi-stakeholder dialogue and partnerships for a data revolution that can benefit the ACP agrifood sector.

A panel will review the key challenges and opportunities for the data revolution with regard to ACP agriculture and the lessons learned from various information systems. Subjects up for discussion will include: What the data revolution can bring to agriculture in ACP countries,  data quality in aid and development, precision agriculture and various uses of  the data revolution such as to  improve food security.

What is open data for agriculture?

Open access to research, and open publication of data, are vital resources for food security and nutrition. According to the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative, "lack of institutional, national, and international policies and openness of data limit the effectiveness of agricultural and nutritional data from research and innovation. Making open data work for agriculture and nutrition requires a shared agenda to increase the supply, quality, and interoperability of data, alongside action to build capacity for the use of data by all stakeholders."

Examples of innovative applications include satellite climate surveillance in Africa, an Open Data portal for Africa, a similar initiative for the Caribbean and GeoPoll, a tool for surveying populations through cellphones.

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